On the Tourist Trail: Beit Sitti

We no longer have internet at home as we have apparently blown our way through 200gb in 3 weeks. The internet company told us the charge for internet per gig over our plan is 8 JD. To put that into perspective, we currently pay 38 JD per month for 200gb. Naturally, we refused.

So it is nearly two weeks later that I write about our experience taking a cooking class at Beit Sitti, something my flatmate and I had wanted to do for a little while. My flatmate’s friend from Germany offered us the opportunity as his way of saying “thank you” for letting him crash in our living room for a few days. It was very generous of him and I am very grateful. Continue reading

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Christmas, Yad Vashem and Haram al-Sharif

Christmas morning we woke up and it was raining. It was also a Sunday and thus, most museums were closed (though Sunday isn’t a weekend here, this is similar to how museums in the West often close on Mondays).  After much deliberation, we chose the most cheerful place we could possibly go on a rainy Christmas Day: Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum). It was one of the only places open.

We took the newly installed Jerusalem light rail, a 10 year construction project that runs from East to West. Unsurprisingly, the construction of the rail, like much in Israel, was plagued by controversy as it passes through settlements in East Jerusalem as well as through Arab East Jerusalem. I also read an interesting article about how the light rail served, in a way, as a connecting bridge between East and West, with the author observing Palestinian families who evidently didn’t often come into West Jerusalem take the train to the end of the line and then get straight back on a return train taking them back to the East, as if they were on a sort of sight-seeing venture.  Continue reading

Glorious Jerusalem, Holy Bethlehem

Jerusalem, glorious Jerusalem. By the time we got to Jerusalem, on the 23rd of December, it had been two weeks since I’d been in the city and boy did I miss it! I had been driving my family nuts talking about all the wonderful things we could do there. Getting back to Jerusalem was like returning home.

We arrived late in the evening on Friday and missed the welcoming of Shabbat at the Western Wall. Instead, we grabbed 7-shekel falafel sandwiches at a stand across from the Damascus Gate and wandered through the Old City at night. My mother was amazed by the cleaning job that had been done on the walls and buildings, and my brother and father were astounded by the beauty of this living and breathing Old City. Continue reading

Getting to Madaba, Jordan

My blog is finally going to live up to its name (a little bit), Across the Middle East, as my family and I journey through Jordan together for the next nine days. The adventure began Thursday evening, with my little brother’s arrival in Israel. My friend picked him up from the airport and we headed directly to Jerusalem, where we stayed with other friends in Katamon (Gonen) and woke up early to catch a taxi to the Sheikh Hussein border crossing.

There are three land borders between Israel and Jordan. One in the north, Sheikh Hussein; one in the south, Arava; and one in Palestine, King Hussein/Allenby. As my brother and I were meeting my parents in Amman, the quickest way would have been to go through Allenby. However, the King Hussein/Allenby crossing is the only crossing that does not provide tourists with visas on arrival and, as we didn’t have the time to prepare our visas in advance, we had to go with the next-best option – Sheikh Hussein. Continue reading

Scattered events and thoughts

For some reason, in the last month I haven’t updated because life here has become normal. Before, every bar was exciting and every encounter was newsworthy. Now, I don’t know…

So I’m making a concerted effort to explain, in a manner which still makes things seem exciting, the day-to-day happenings of life in Israel. Right around my last post, about the stone-throwing incident in Jerusalem, it was Sukkot and various other holidays, which meant that there were lots of long weekends spent in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to one of my closest friends in the middle of last month. We sent him off with lots of hugs and alcohol and a good time 🙂  Continue reading

King George and other things…

Last week, I mentioned that there’s barely a boring week her. It seems I spoke too soon. Not that I had a boring week per say, but definitely a lot less eventful. I saw some friends (really, such lovely girls), made a new friend, climbed the breakers of Jaffa Port again, and wished my beloved boyfriend a happy 25th birthday.

I was supposed to visit Bethlehem last weekend, but was stood up. To be honest, I’m not that surprised, but I was very frustrated. And because of Shabbat, I couldn’t leave on Saturday because there are no sherut (mini-van buses that run on Shabbat) by my house to take me to the central bus station. In any case, I did what I haven’t done in a long time – I spent a lazy weekend on my sofa eating, watching TV and talking to my boyfriend. Continue reading

The Israeli life

I’m always astounded by how eventful my daily life here is. Perhaps I was exceptionally lazy in Montreal, or perhaps all the homework from class ensured that I didn’t have much spare time. Or most likely, it was the limiting (and long) winters. In any case, I think since my arrival I haven’t had one boring, uneventful week here… and this week certainly was no exception.

On Tuesday night I met with a lovely friend for dinner and a walk along the previously mentioned housing protest on Rothschild Boulevard. I was amazed at how much it had expanded since the last time I went. It had almost doubled. There were various locations with artists performing live music and giant screens had been rigged and people were watching television and documentaries together under the trees. It sounds lovely and romantic, but in reality, it’s not all fun and games in Tel Aviv’s absurd heat and humidity. Continue reading